This site-specific labyrinth, created as a gift to a small regional town in Australia, enhances the quality of its public domain, invites participation by all and promotes the civic life of the town. It is truly of its people and place - a local charitable trust had the vision, provided the funding, and sourced local contractors and materials while the local council donated the land.
Its public parkland riverside setting close to the town provides an ideal location for community access, events, spaces for learning and enhanced enjoyment of the natural environment.
The 1200m2 labyrinth provides an opportunity for reflection with a very clear path and a calming environment – the opposite of a maze, which is designed to confuse. The materials and stories of Tumut make this labyrinth uniquely a local one. And it’s one of a few labyrinths worldwide that is completely accessible.
The carefully chosen location is surrounded by water on two sides, easily accessible, not too busy and linked to an Indigenous meeting place nearby. The octagon-shaped layout follows the traditional pattern of labyrinths and evokes Tumut’s street grid with a single entrance and single winding path that leads to a central place of contemplation. The journey provides sweeping panoramas of the surrounds.
Central to the design is accessibility – manifested in capacious size, turns, and width, smooth materials and surfaces. Traditionally labyrinths focus on the individual alone on their journey but this unique approach allows two people to walk together and wheelchair/pram use.
Local history and astronomy permeate this journey. Inlaid stones represent the positions of the planets in the southern sky on Armistice Day 1918, connecting the labyrinth to a moment in history shared around the world. Symbols from conflicts and local traumas are embedded in the site. Along the outer edge, three way stations feature interpretive panels about Tumut’s history and geography, from first inhabitants, early settlers to now. The seat design references historic concrete seats on the riverbank nearby.
Holistic sustainability includes specification of locally sourced durable materials, employing local trades, high standard craftsmanship, accessibility and inclusiveness. A well-subscribed public park is enhanced for local events such as the annual lantern festival. New plantings of local and endangered plants enrich the landscape.
A place of personal reflection and meeting, exercise and education, celebration and events, this civic asset both beautifies and benefits.